There might not be a better franchise in the world than James Bond. Created, by author Ian Flemming, in 1953 the British secret agent has been present in any medium that one can shake a stick at. The popularity has come with books and movies but Bond has made appearances in radio, comic books, television, and video games. The success of the James Bond franchise cannot be understated. It has become the longest continually running movie franchise in the world. 007 has amassed over 7 billion dollars at the box office offering up 24 movies. There is one constant in all 25 movies (To date). The iconic James Bond Opener.
Various factors have gone into the success of James Bond. The acting, exotic settings, attractive girls, and creative action sequences have helped to prolong the movies series for close to 60 years.
Another huge selling point of the franchise has been the music that is associated with it. Over the years the biggest musical artists in the world have fought to appear in the opening credits. Having a song featured in a James Bond film opens you to a larger audience and can make or break you as a musician.
Below we will take a look at 10 songs that are the best of the James Bond franchise.
James Bond Theme – John Barry (1962 – Always Present)
There can’t be a list without discussing the theme song that started it all. First, appearing in Dr. No the James Bond theme is the most recognizable of the franchise. It has appeared in every movie of the series and it is an incredible piece of music.
There have been slight variations of the theme throughout the years but the significance of it has remained the same. The theme has become the calling card of the franchise. It gets the viewers’ blood pumping when hearing it as we know that 007 is on the way.
No Time To Die – Billie Eilish (2021’s “No Time To Die”)
We start from the most recent Bond film. No Time To Die has been waiting for its release for well over a year now. While we have not been able to see the film its opening song, sung by Billie Eilish, has been out for some time now thanks to multiple delays of the title tracks movie.
Eilish is one of the youngest artists to appear in a James Bond opener and she has shown maturity beyond her years. The Daniel Craig Bond films have had more of a gritty and realistic nature to their production and Eilish has mirrored this with her song.
Eilish’s opener has a more subtle and brooding atmosphere than those that have come before it. It is a slow song with darker tones that will be the perfect send-off for Daniel Craig… If you listen close, you’ll hear all of the signature “Bond Chords” too.
A View To A Kill – Duran Duran (1985’s “A View To A Kill”)
Roger Moore taking over as 007 marked a tonal shift in the franchise. More fantastical storylines were presented and the movies became more comical than those that preceded them.
With the series going in a different direction it made sense for the opening song to move the same way. Having Duran Duran pen a song was a great idea and they knocked it out of the park with A View To A Kill.
Duran Duran’s opener was your typical 80s song. The use of keyboards and the accompanying music was a perfect match to the musical style at the time. It was a shift from Bond openers of the past but a welcome one to usher in a new era.
It is also interesting to note that this was the only Bond opener to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. For all the artists who have lent their talents to the franchise, this is quite the feat.
Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon (1977’s “From The Spy Who Loved Me”)
Outside of his debut into the Bond series, no one will be heard saying that any of the Roger Moore Bonds were great films. The acting was a tad over-the-top and seeing Moore prance around with women half his age was a bit hard to watch.
That being said there were some outstanding opening songs for his movies and Nobody Does It Better could be at the top of the list.
Created for The Spy Who Loved Me, Simon gave a great performance for this Bond opener. Her romantic ballad was something that we had not heard from a Bond franchise before. 007 was not exactly known for his monogamous relationship with women and this song presented a different side to the franchise.
This song has also become popular outside the franchise. It is consistently used for montages and memorials for various movies and guilds across the world. This shows the influence Carly Simon’s Bond opener has had.
Skyfall – Adele (2012’s “Skyfall”)
After Quantum Of Solace confidence was not high with the 007 series. Both the movie and opening song were considered some of the worst of the franchise and some were wondering if the Bond series was on its last legs. Luckily, these fears were put to rest when Skyfall hit the silver screen.
The movie was a fantastic addition to the 007 series but slightly overshadowing the movie was the amazing opener, sung by Adele.
Adele is one of the most talented artists in the world and these talents were on full display. After reading the script she wrote a beautiful song that matched the darker atmosphere of the movie. The imminent danger that Bond was in could be felt during the song and it was a great way to introduce the movie.
Adele’s amazing voice was another selling point for the song. The notes that she hit during the song could not have been done by many and that made the Bond opener even more special.
Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings (1973’s “Live And Let Die”)
As was mentioned earlier the quality of Bond films dipped a bit when Sean Connery left the franchise. Roger Moore smashes his way onto the silver screen, and was a suitable replacement but many of the films lost sight of what the series was truly about. This cannot be said for the first outing by Moore. Live and Let Die was a fantastic movie and to go along with it was one of the all-time great openers.
Put together by Paul McCartney, Live and Let Die was a great song for 007. The lyrics were incredibly catchy and easy to sing along to. It also did a great job with pacing. Switching between slow and rapid tempo throughout the song was a perfect way to maintain interest during the opening credits.
A lot can be said about Live and Let Die, but the most significant should be that this song sounds like one performed by the Beatles. McCartney had struck out on his own by this time with not as much success. This was the only time that a solo song could have been passed off as a Beatles tune. (Editors Note: The Guns ‘N Roses version is better)
Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey (1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever”)
Coming back for a final send-off Sean Connery needed a big star to helm his last movie. The 007 franchise turned to one of its greatest with Shirley Bassey
Bassey had a great reputation with the franchise so it was a smart decision to bring her back. Her voice was beautiful and she added a great backdrop to the film. HerHer
The writing and performance of the song are near perfect. It works by identifying the movie and keeping on pace with that throughout. It is a fondly remembered song in the franchise but not one that hits at the top of many lists.
The only thing that is working against this Bond opener is the unfair comparison to Bassey’s previous song. Diamonds are forever is a great Bond opener and one that should be considered an all-time great.
Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey (1964’s “Goldfinger”)
Well if we are going to allude to Bassey’s superior ballad then we might as well get it out of the way.
Goldfinger is the song that many mention when talking about the greatest Bond openers and with good reason. Bassey was at the top of her game during this song. Her booming vocals were fantastic and exactly what this song needed to become great.
The accompanying brass sections that were used were a beautiful addition to the song. The blaring horns and saxophone carried with them a sense of importance. Having this accompany the titular villain where he went was a great way to sell the importance of the character.
The Bond franchise was still in its infancy when Goldfinger hit the silver screen. This did not stop the movie from producing one of the most iconic openers. An opener that is still at the top of many lists today.
Thunderball – by Tom Jones (1965’s “Thunderball”)
Following Goldfinger, 007 was embroiled in a battle with SPECTRE over control of two nuclear missiles. Thunderball is not regarded as one of the better installments of the Bond franchise. The story was convoluted and hard to follow, but that should not take away from the fact that they have a killer opening song.
Bringing in Tom Jones to belt out the Bond opener was a masterstroke by the producers. Jones had been an international superstar for years at this point and had a reputation for hammering out hit after hit.
Thunderball was another instant classic by Jones. His booming vocals were perfect for the song and added a gravitas to the movie. The accompanying variation on the James Bond theme was also the perfect backdrop for the song.
The fourth Bond movie may have not been the best of the Bond series but it is not unusual, see what I did there, to see Thunderball near the top of all-time Bond openers.
Goldeneye – by Tina Turner (1995’s “Goldeneye”)
Following the longest gap in Bond movies, the world was given a new Bond and new movie in 1995. Taking over for Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan was the replacement that fans had been wanting for years.
His first outing, Goldeneye, checked off every box in what makes a Bond movie great. It had exotic locations, fancy gadgets, a killer Bond girl, and of course, one of the best opener numbers in Bond history.
Written by Bono and The Edge, and performed by Tina Turner “Goldeneye” is a perfect song for 007. It harkened back to the days of old with its brass accompaniment and soothing, sexy tones. Goldeneye was a move back to the old Bond stories and this opener is exactly what it needed. Goldeneye was a breath of fresh air into the franchise. It introduced a generation to what made a Bond opener great and how it should be presented. The video game is pretty good too…
(Editors Note: Hello again, so I found the entire opening sequence of Brosnan doing the swan dive from the dam, punching the guard on the loo, all the way through until the “Credits” scene, so enjoy this)